In 2011 we had the opportunity to meet Colton Johnson and his father Brian. They both drew good tags for our area. Colton with a any mule deer tag and Brian with a any whitetail tag for November first through the twentieth. Each tag had endless potential depending on the time the hunter had to invest. In scouting I had watched several shooters. one being a dandy four by four that was pushing a twenty eight inch spread. With Colton’s hunt we started first. The weekend of the tenth was the first that they would be able to hunt, witch was great as the deer had really started rutting hard. Colton and Brian would also only be able to hunt weekends as Colton had a busy school/ football schedule and Brian was buried at work. In the week leading up to the hunt the weather was looking great. We had had some snow and temps were good for keeping deer on there feet. However as it often goes in hunting the weather warmed up and got windy the day before we began, leaving us with very little movement for the day. We hit some high points and did a great deal of glassing. Although we saw a lot of deer there were no shooters in sight. Not to worry it was the first day and we had weather coming. The next morning we awoke to several inches of snow and a temp of twenty degrees. Perfect!
Also to our advantage Jeff Harmon (guide and friend) was along to help. As we drove into the area we were hunting we saw several bucks casing very aggressively in the bottoms of the valleys. We scrambled to a good vantage point to start locating a good buck. Jeff went one way and we went another. On they way up we top a small ridge to see a great buck walking over the next rise. Wait, wait and he’s out of sight. It was a great buck, the best I’d seen in scouting. We slowly worked to the top and started picking apart all the county below. Several deer milling around but none were the buck we were looking for. After an hour or so we decide to work our way to a new vantage point. We worked down the mountain slow, taking time to let our glass work as we see new ground and new deer. Brian spotted two does near on the valley floor about five hundred yards away. One feeding and one bedded. As we studied the area for more deer we see a flash in the timber headed toward the does. It’s a buck, a good buck. Not the buck we saw earlier but still a good buck. He runs at a trot and gores the bedded doe in the butt, up she jumps and there off at a trot. We take off and drop in a cut between ourselves and the deer and try to close the distance. As we peek over the edge that would have put us within three hundred yards all we see is there tail ends going into the timber and out of sight. Again we wait and glass. Nothing…. Down we go, then a text comes in from Jeff. He’s on the twenty eight incher. Back up we head to find Jeff. A half hour later we reach him and he’s trying to relocate the buck. The problem we’re having is they’re casing to hard for us to do anything with them. Every time we get a good buck in sight either the country is to broken or the timber to thick to keep eyes on them until we can get within range. Hours spent again and we cant relocate him. We decide to take lunch and then head to a new ridge that’s less wooded. We hit the valley floor and head up the other side walking the dirt road as its the easiest way up to where we want to be. Jeff is in the lead followed by Colton then Brian and myself so I can hang back and capture a little footage of the hunt. Suddenly Jeff throws his binos up. We all freeze studying the area trying to find what he’s looking at. He looks at us, “there was a buck just around the bend in the road, but I didn’t get a good look at him before he went out of sight”. I motion to head on up so we can get a better look. We move slow taking in each new foot of the scattered sage in front of us. Steep up to the right and step down to the left, what we are seeing is only a hundred yards in front of us or less. Then several does and a small buck trot onto the road from our left, look at us and walk around the bend to the right and out of sight. We move to see if they are joining any deer in the basin around the corner. It’s a small basin you cant see any of until you can see it all and boom we’re there. Glasses go up and Colton goes stone. A good buck is staring at us seventy yards up the gut of the basin as the does and small buck trot off up to the left. Jeff has the reigns, quickly judges the buck and starts talking Colton through the shot. I’m trying my best to capture the events but as the battery died in the camcorder I was videoing with my iphone. Ya, that turned out great. lol. Snap, crack the dirt fly’s and the buck jumps. Miss? The mature deer figures out he’s in a bad spot and the other deer had it right and takes the same path. Shot number two and the buck is confused and slows down. I guess I get it as he’s more than likely never herd that sound that close to him in his life! Now both of us are talking to Colton. Jeff is telling him to take a deep breath release and squeeze and I’m telling him to take his time in the most rushed tone possible between whistles in an attempt to stop the the buck. Boom, smack and he goes down. Yes! The look of relief on Colton’s face as he got up to be greeted with high fives and hugs was priceless. He did his part and I speak for Jeff and myself when I say were thankful for the opportunity to do ours.